Indianapolis – Jonathan Byrd’s Racing is excited to announce two time USAC National Sprint Car Champion, two time USAC National Midget Champion, three time USAC National Driver’s Champion, two time National Midget Driver of the Year, and 2012 Indy 500 starter Bryan Clauson as the driver of the Jonathan Byrd’s IndyCar beginning with the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2015.
Speaking to that announcement, Bryan Clauson said: “I’m extremely excited to be headed back to the Indy 500. Getting back on track at IMS is something I’ve been working toward since the end of the 2012 race, and I can’t thank the Byrd family enough for giving me this opportunity. The Byrd family has a tremendous history not only at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but also among the short track community as well. To add my name to an impressive list of Jonathan Byrd’s racing drivers that includes guys like Rich Vogler and Stan Fox is an honor. With what I learned from my previous Indy 500 experience, along with a full year to prepare, I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together.”
Jonathan Byrd II, elder son of the late Jonathan Byrd, added: “Not only is Bryan going to be our Indy 500 driver next year, it’s our intention that he be our Indy 500 driver for the next 15 years. He is a great fit for our brand, and we hope to be in the BC business for many years to come. In addition to Bryan driving the Jonathan Byrd’s IndyCar, we will also be supporting him in all of his racing efforts, and look forward to seeing him continue his winning ways and ‘parking it right down in the circle’ time and again while wearing the Jonathan Byrd’s logo. Amazingly, Bryan is scheduled to race more than 130 times in 2014, and we want to see him continue doing that for years to come. With his seven USAC championships and fifty-five career USAC wins at the ripe old age of twenty-four, Bryan is a throwback to Rich Vogler, which increases our level of excitement that much more. We have little doubt that he will add the title of ‘Indy 500 Champion’ to his resume.”
Virginia “Ginny” Byrd talked about the decision to return to Indy a year earlier than had been previously announced: “Though we had originally intended to return for the 100th running of the Indy 500 in 2016, which would also have been the 20th anniversary of our track record with Arie, the announcement of our plans was met with such enthusiasm in so many different ways and from so many different directions, we decided that it did not make any sense to wait until 2016 and that we needed to move our program forward by a year.”
Ginny continued, saying “The Indy 500 has been such a big part of the identity of our family and of the Jonathan Byrd’s brand. With the recent changes to our restaurant operations, along with the plans and programs that we are putting in place for the present and future of Jonathan Byrd’s, we decided that we needed to revisit that identity even sooner and go ahead and take the necessary steps a year ahead of what we had planned so we could once again tie ourselves to the biggest event in the world. These are exciting time for us, as we intend to grow the Jonathan Byrd’s restaurant, banquet, and catering brand here in central Indiana. Our presence here at Indy is going to be a key component of that growth, which is why we came to realize that we needed to be back in 2015. I’m really happy that we’re coming back with a popular and super talented Indiana kid like Bryan, which just makes it that much more fun!”
David Byrd, younger son of the late Jonathan Byrd, added “When we decided that it was time for us to return to Indy, Bryan was the first, last, and only driver we even considered. We went to him a couple of months ago, told him our plans, and said ‘we want you, are you in?’ Not only does his resume speak for itself, but everybody knows that Bryan was extremely fast right out of the box when he ran the 500 as a rookie in 2012. It’s an honor to have him drive for us, and I’m very happy that we’re not going to have to wait another two years to see him in action. We fully expect him to be quick again, and we’re going to give him all of the resources that he needs to run up front and compete to win. We’ll be ready to compete on the opening day of practice in 2015, as we have entered into an exciting partnership with an existing IndyCar team to create the Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Indy 500 entry for BC. We will be making a joint announcement in regards to that partnership in the very near future.”
The 2015 Indianapolis 500 will be the 10th anniversary of the most recent Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Indy 500 entry with Buddy Lazier in 2005. It will also mark the 30th anniversary of the first Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Indy 500 entry with Rich Vogler in 1985.
— Jonathan Byrd’s Racing History —
Jonathan Byrd’s Racing was founded by the late Jonathan Byrd in 1982, and traces its roots to the Indianapolis Speedrome, where it found immediate championship-winning success. From there, the Jonathan Byrd’s team spread its wings to begin competing on short tracks across the country. While continuing its winning ways on the short tracks of America, Jonathan Byrd’s Racing made the leap to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In its various forms, Jonathan Byrd’s Racing has successfully fielded 17 entries in the Indianapolis 500 beginning in 1985, scoring 6 top ten finishes, with a best finish of 5th in 2005. The roster of Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Indy 500 drivers includes Rich Vogler (‘85,’86,’87,’88 & ’89), Stan Fox (‘91,’92), Gordon Johncock (‘91), Buddy Lazier (‘91,’05), Scott Brayton (‘93), John Andretti (‘94), Davy Jones (‘95), Arie Luyendyk (‘96), Mike Groff (‘97,’98), and Jaques Lazier (‘01). A Jonathan Byrd’s Racing car currently holds the all-time Indianapolis 500 1 7 4 lap qualifying records (Luyendyk ’96). Jonathan Byrd’s Racing has won 2 IndyCar races (Luyendyk – Phoenix ’96, Paul Jr – Texas ’98), along with 2 United States Auto Club National Midget Championships (’86,’87), and numerous regional & short-track championships in both midget racing and late model stock cars. Jonathan Byrd’s Racing, along with its partner teams, was responsible for the first ever “double” in 1994, when John Andretti raced in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the same day.
— Bryan Clauson: Career Highlights —
• Won USAC National Sprint Car Series championship.
• Won seven USAC National Sprint car events, earned 21 top-five and 30 top-10s in 33 starts.
• Won first Indiana Sprint Week crown.
• Won USAC National Sprint Car Series championship.
• Seven-time winner in 34 USAC National Sprint Car Series events.
• Won USAC Eastern Storm Speedweek Points title.
• For the third consecutive season, he earned the USAC National Drivers Champion title.
• Made starting grid for Indy 500 driving the No. 39 Sarah Fisher Hartman/Curb Agajanian Honda; finished 30th after a spin early in the race.
• Earned 2012 First-Team All-American by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association.
• Earned the USAC National Drivers Champion title.
• Won his second USAC National Midget Series championship, winning five times in 21 starts.
• Winner of the Indiana Midget Week title.
• Raced six times in the Indy Lights series in 2011, driving the Sam Schmidt Motorsports No. 77 Road to Indy/Curb Records-sponsored Dallara. His best finish was a third place in the Sukup 100 at Iowa Speedway.
• Made eight USAC Silver Crown starts in 2011, earning two top-three finishes.
• Won the inaugural USAC National Drivers Championship, earning a $300,000 scholarship to compete in the Indy Lights series with Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
• Was named to the 2011 All-American Auto Racing Team by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association first-team.
• Won the USAC National Midget Car Series championship.
• Finished third in the 2010 USAC National Sprint Car Series championship, winning three races.
• Finished fourth in the 2010 USAC Silver Crown Series.
• Was named 2010 Rookie of the Year in the USAC Silver Crown Series division.
• Won six USAC National Midget Car Series events en route to the 2010 title.
• Won his first career USAC Silver Crown Series feature event Sept. 25, 2010 at Eldora Speedway .
• Won several high-profile USAC Midget Car Series events in 2010, including the Hut Hundred on May 8, the Belleville Midget Nationals on Aug. 7 and the Turkey Night Grand Prix on Nov. 15.
• His Turkey Night Grand Prix victory was his second consecutive event triumph in as many years.
• Won two International Midget Car Series features at Western Springs Speedway in Auckland, New Zealand.
• Was named to the 2010 All-American Auto Racing Team by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association first-team for the first time in his career.
• Named Hoosier Racing Fan Club Driver of the Year and the National Midget Driver of the Year.
• In 2009, won more than 20 races in USAC National Sprint Car Series and USAC National Midget Series competition, including the Indiana Midget Week Championship, the Hall of Fame Classic, the Night Before the Brickyard at Lucas Oil Raceway, the Turkey Night Grand Prix and the Glenn Howard Memorial.
• Finished second in the USAC Indiana Sprint Week.
• Runner-up to Landon Cassill for Rookie of the Year honors in the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series while driving for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
• Scored a top-five Nationwide Series finish at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in June 2008 and a sixth-place finish in the season-opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
• Qualified on the pole in the Nationwide Series race in July 2008 at Daytona.
• Scored an ARCA Series win in 2007 at Gateway International Raceway and added three more top-five finishes in six starts driving for the Ganassi team.
• Youngest driver to sweep the high banks of USAC competition, winning at both Salem & Winchester Speedways
• By winning both Midget and Sprint Car features in August 2006 at Salem (Ind.) Speedway, he became the youngest driver to sweep a USAC Midget/Sprint doubleheader weekend.
• Youngest Sprint Car National Feature winner in USAC history, winning in April ’06 at Winchester Speedway.
• USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year in 2006.
• Signed with the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Driver Development Program.
• Youngest Midget National Feature winner in USAC history, winning Oct. ’05 at Columbus Motor Speedway.
• Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway and Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway Rookie of the Year.
• Winner of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Wildcard Award in 2004.
• North American Auto Racing Series (NAMARS) Kenyon Midget National Champion in 2003.
• Won Kokomo Speedway Sprint Car Rookie of the Year honors in 2003.
• NAMARS Kenyon Midget Series Rookie of the Year.
• Camden (Tenn.) Speedway Rookie of the Year.
• Indiana Quarter Midget State Champion.
• California Quarter Midget State Champion.
Release Information & Photo Courtesy of the Jonathan Byrd Racing and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway